Q&A with Eilidh Robertson, Head of Executive Search at Hunter Adams

Following her recent appointment to Head of Executive Search, we caught up with Eilidh Robertson to chat all things recruitment and retained search.

  1. Congratulations on your new role heading up Hunter Adams’ Executive Search arm. Could you share a bit more about your career journey to date that has led you to this point?

Just over 25 years ago (yikes) with a degree in Aquatic Bioscience and no real idea of what I wanted to do, I applied to an advert (in the paper!) and after a grueling assessment day,  joined Hays Accountancy & Finance – it was Dublin, 1998 and the “Celtic Tiger” was roaring, it was a super busy office, where we’d fight over the fax machine to get CVs over clients.  I stayed with Hays for 7 years – moving from Dublin to Swansea, then London, Edinburgh and on to Glasgow, where I set up Hays Purchasing in Scotland.

I was approached to work in-house with RBS in their Procurement function, mostly buying recruitment services for the Group (including their Exec Search panel).  Then I worked as a Practice Lead in Exec Search, specialising in senior appointments to the not-for-profit and public sector. This made me fall back in love with recruitment.  Managing retained processes, where you know you’ve left no stone unturned to find the best person possible for a role – working in partnership with clients and the positive influence you can have on both the success of the hiring process and on the candidate experience.

What I didn’t enjoy as much, in the traditional agency setting, was the fundamental focus on fees.  So, a small bump in the career road later, I landed at Hunter Adams.  As an employee-owned, values-led business it’s just been an absolute joy to do what I love with the focus on quality and doing the right thing.

  1. Can you describe the experience you’ve had in your career so far that you feel has prepared you well for this new role?

I got a great grounding in recruitment early in my career and with all the geographical moves came a focus on a new sector or skill set therefore I’ve gained a lot of breadth in the types of roles I’ve recruited for throughout my career.  We’ve a saying at Hunter Adams, that “good HR is good HR” – meaning we know people can transfer skills, the same applies in search – it’s the process and the skill at building relationships that’s most important.  In addition, being in-house and buying recruitment services gave me a deep understanding of the client experience.

  1. Is Executive Search new for Hunter Adams?

No, our senior HR network has used us since we were founded to support senior HR hires and, we’ve made many senior non-HR hires in the Energy sector in Aberdeen.  What we’ve developed over the last few years is a reputation for supporting across multiple sectors, roles and geographies e.g. trustees, commercial roles and senior leadership roles in charities.

  1. What are your plans for the year ahead in terms of developing this service?

Spreading the word and delivering the work!  We know that most of our business comes through referrals and so I want to make sure that all our clients know that we can support them and what a good job we’ll do.

  1. From your perspective, what are the current trends in executive search, and how do you think these will shape the future of talent acquisition?

Engaging diverse talent has to be top of the list, whether that’s women in non-exec and senior positions or ethnically diverse shortlists.  AI is dominating lots of discussion, and although it can add some value to parts of the process, I don’t think you can truly connect with the best talent unless you’re doing it human to human.

  1. Finally, tell us a bit about yourself Eilidh – what floats your boat outside of recruitment?

Well, like a boat, I like to float, so being on or in water.

  1. Last one – what’s an unusual fact about yourself that no one in your professional network will know?

I love a crossword.


With Eilidh taking our retained executive search services to the next level this year and beyond, get in touch with her if you’re planning any key senior hires in the months ahead –eilidh.robertson@hunteradams.co.uk